President Donald Trump kicked off the week by asserting that he has the “absolute right” to pardon himself of any federal crimes, but will not need to do so because he has “done nothing wrong.”
“Numerous legal scholars” have stated that Trump has the constitutional authority to self-pardon, writes the president of himself, “But why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” In a subsequent tweet Trump calls Robert Mueller’s special council appointment “totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL,” once again insists he has “done nothing wrong!”
Trump’s tweets come one day after one of his lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, said that a hypothetical self-pardon is out of the question as it would most likely lead to impeachment — but that Trump could still do it if he so wanted.
“He has no intention of pardoning himself, but he probably — not to say he can’t,” said Giuliani on ABC’s “This Week.”
Giuliani’s comments followed The New York Times’ publication of a confidential memo Trump’s legal team sent to Mueller in January which argued that as the chief of the executive branch, the president has control of all appointees and federal investigations and thus can not be found guilty of obstructing justice.
Though even if he could be found guilty, he won’t be, because “He has no need to do it. He’s done nothing wrong,” Giuliani added.
In the 20-page letter, Trump’s lawyers asserted that the commander in chief “could neither constitutionally nor legally constitute obstruction because that would amount to him obstructing himself, and that he could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.”
When asked whether Trump will voluntary sit for an interview with Mueller, Giuliani said probably not. “But look, if they can convince us that it will be brief, it would be to the point, there were five or six points they have to clarify, and with that, we can get this — this long nightmare for the ― for the American public over,” the former New York City mayor told ABC.
Does Trump Have The Power To Self-Pardon?
Though Trump claims “numerous legal scholars” agree a presidential self-pardon is legal, the lack of a historical precedent means there is no true consensus. As NPR points out, “no president has ever attempted it. No court has ever tested it.”
The Washington Post spoke to Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University Law School, who said scholars have long debated whether a president has the ability to self-pardon. He believes that a president can pardon himself, but that Congress “can use his pardon as an abuse of his office,” meaning he can not protect himself from impeachment.